Journal article about Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and neoliberalism.
In explaining the emergence of new strategic action fields, in which social movements’ and organizations’ logic, rules and strategies are forged, inter-field dynamics remain under-explored. The case of Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (SEE) shows how new fields can emerge through field encroachment, whereby shifts among overlapping fields create structural opportunities for the ascendency of new fields, which may adapt logics borrowed from adjacent fields to construct legitimacy. SEE leveraged the 1980s’ shift between first-order market and state fields to encroach on the political strategies of community organizing, birthing a neoliberal social movement to create a new field addressing social problems using market-based, profit-motivated approaches. With its borrowed veneer of justice, SEE rapidly developed a high academic and public profile over just three decades, despite little evidence its approach to solving social problems works. In encroaching on proven political strategies for solving social problems, it may further undermine democratic practices.